CASPER, Wyo. — A Casper mother who allegedly exaggerated her son’s medical condition to collect thousands of dollars from the community pleaded not guilty to felony theft in court Tuesday morning.
Krishelle Layton appeared in Natrona County District Court after bailing out of jail on $2,000 bond. She is being represented by public defender Tracy Hucke.
Layton’s son, Dorian Layton, 6, does have a tumor on his brain — “a low-grade glioma,” according to a court affidavit in the case.
But Dorian is not as sick as his mother claimed, according to the document, and she misled people into thinking he was on “deaths [sic] door” in order to defraud the community earlier this year of about $7,000.
Layton was arrested May 13 by the Department of Criminal Investigation after an investigation that spanned to February. Layton was charged with obtaining property by false pretenses on May 14.
Layton attributed the charges to misunderstandings in a later interview with the Casper Star-Tribune.
It is unclear in the affidavit what caused DCI to look into the family, but the affidavit states the investigation began after receiving a tip from the Casper Police Department about potential fraud.
The affidavit also states that the Laytons stayed with former police Chief Chris Walsh in February, and that the family had packed and left “in the middle of the night” after Walsh questioned “certain things Krishelle Layton was doing” in her care of Dorian. That alleged overnight flight was about Feb. 14, and the investigation opened Feb. 20.
In terms of alleged fraud, the DCI claims that Layton misled people and organizations, including the Casper Star-Tribune, about Dorian’s condition.
In December, when the Star-Tribune first covered an event featuring Dorian, Layton told the paper that Dorian had begun experiencing long-term memory loss along with other apparent symptoms of worsening brain cancer.
According to the affidavit, the doctor who treated Dorian’s tumor in Texas said the tumor was not growing and that other than “monitoring,” Dorian could have a normal childhood. He would need annual scans to ensure the tumor was not growing, the affidavit states.
The doctor also said he did not advise Layton to make death preparations for Dorian.
Layton told the Star-Tribune on June 17 that she was only acting on what doctors were telling her.
The felony fraud charge stems from the benefits the family received by putting on the alleged facade that Dorian was very near death.
Most notably, DCI claims the family told a manager at the Black and Gold Grille in Casper that he would likely not survive until his April birthday, and so the restaurant held an early birthday party for Dorian in February. Between donations collected and the expenses of the party, DCI claims that Layton defrauded more than $2,500 from the bar and those who donated.
The report also cites an online donation website as evidence of the fraud, claiming the less than $2,000 collected on that site was obtained under false pretenses.
Dorian and his brother Julien, who was 9 at the time of his mother’s arrest, have been in the custody of Layton’s sister since February, according to the affidavit. In that time, the report states, “none of the various medical symptoms that (Layton) complained about with (her son) have been observed to be ongoing.”
Layton is only allowed to have contact with Dorian and Julien through the Department of Family Services, Judge Michael Patchen said in court Tuesday. Layton does have custody of her 2-year-old daughter.
If convicted of felony fraud, Layton could spend up to 10 years in prison.